• Start: Abbey Terrace
  • End: Abbey Terrace
  • Country: England
  • County: Gloucestershire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub:
  • Ordnance Survey: Explorer sheet OL45
  • Difficulty: Medium


As April passes by, the Cotswolds bid farewell to long nights and leafless trees, and true spring bursts into life all around you. Even the occasional cold snap and downpour only serves to hasten the reawakening as a blanket of fresh green is drap...

As April passes by, the Cotswolds bid farewell to long nights and leafless trees, and true spring bursts into life all around you. Even the occasional cold snap and
downpour only serves to hasten the reawakening as a blanket of fresh green is draped over the countryside.

All along the Cotswold way, the sights, sounds and smells become more energetic and full of life as the month moves on. Blossom shines from the hedgerows, and bumblebees start to alight on the tender new wildflowers spreading along the banks and through the woodlands. More and
more butterflies flit across the grasslands and meadows, and summer visiting birds start to fill the brightening skies.

One swallow never made a spring, but when you see increasing numbers dancing the heavens and hear your first cuckoo of the year, you know the season has definitely arrived and summer is on its way.

As with most of the others in our series of easy, accessible circular trails, this wonderfully scenic and interesting little walk was devised in partnership with the Cotswold Way Voluntary Wardens. A small band of enthusiastic, hard-working volunteers, the Wardens give up their time to keep the National Trail open and in excellent condition, so that people of all ages and all walks of life can access and enjoy England's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

From the delightfully unspoilt town of Winchcombe, the trail takes you along Cotswold Way routes old and new, past incredible views and up to one of the area's most intriguing ancient monuments, Belas Knap.

A combination of history and scenery that will leave you eager to discover more of the National Trail and the inspirational landscape through which it runs.

Distance: 5 miles (Shorter route 3 miles)

Duration: 3-4 hrs (Shorter route: 2-3 hrs)

Difficulty: Moderate, some steep sections and stiles

Public transport: No. 606 bus from Cheltenham (See Cotswold Way public transport leaflet, or call Traveline on 0871 200 2233)

OS reference:Start/Finish at SP024282: Explorer sheet OL45

Refreshments: Several excellent pubs and cafes in Winchcombe. Public toilets at the top of Vineyard Street.

1. Start at the war memorial on Abbey Terrace, opposite the Plaisterer's arms. Facing the pub, turn right and make for Vineyard Street. Turn left down this little road bordered by picturesque terraced cottages and pollarded trees until you reach the stone bridge at the bottom.

2. Just after the bridge, take the Cotswold Way through the gate on your right and cross the grassy meadow in the shadow of St Peter's Church, towards the gate on the other
side. Continue to follow the signs along the field boundaries until you reach Corndean Lane.

Watching for traffic, turn left and head up the lane until
the Cotswold Way branches off through a wide gate on the
right. Carry on up this access road, past the cricket ground
on the right, until a fingerpost guides you through a
kissing gate on your left. Head on up through the middle
of the rolling green fields towards the woods at the top of
the hill.

3. The kissing gate at the top is an excellent spot to rest
awhile and take in the wonderful views over the town
behind you. Once you've caught your breath, go through
the gate and leave the Cotswold Way to head right, up the
road between the trees.

(If you don't fancy the last climb up to Belas Knap, head
along the road straight ahead to take up the route at point
five). Not long after you pass Hill Barn Farm on your
right, turn left at the fingerpost next to the large oak tree
to rejoin the Cotswold Way and head towards the mound
of Belas Knap rising up at the far side of the field.

4. This Neolithic long barrow, or burial chamber, is surrounded by many myths and legends. The first recorded excavation took place in 1863, and since then hundreds of human bones have been uncovered, some of which date back over 6,000 years. It is one of the most intriguing and iconic structures in the Cotswolds, and an excellent place to pause and soak up the past. Leaving the barrow behind, cross over the stone stile at the far side and continue to follow the Cotswold Way for half a mile along field boundaries and down through woods until you meet the road.

5. Keeping a good ear out for traffic, turn right to leave the Cotswold Way and follow the road for a quarter of a mile until you reach a turning on your left. Follow this track, the old route of the Cotswold Way, down past Humblebee Cottages all the while taking in the incredible views eastwards into the heart of the Cotswolds.

6. Follow the path to the right of the farm buildings and continue between the metal fence and hedge towards the stile at the end. Again, wonderful views open up below you, this time over Winchcombe and the stunning Sudeley Castle with over a thousand years of royal history and some of the most magical gardens in the country. Continue to follow the waymarked path downhill, around and across fields and over stiles, finally passing through a kissing gate onto the road.

7. Turn left, and follow the road back towards point two, retracing your steps back into Winchcombe. Whatever the time of year, this fascinating, living, breathing town has a wealth of tea rooms, pubs and places of interest ready to welcome enquiring minds and weary walkers. Rest and enjoy!

James Blockley National Trail Officer Cotswold Way National Trail Cotswolds Conservation Board Fosse Way Northleach Gloucestershire GL54 3JH Tel: 01451 862000
Fax: 01451 862001

Latest from the Cotswold Life